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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Heat Is On In Saigon! Part 1

As I mentioned in one of my posts, I'll be at Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam last weekend. Here are my thoughts and realizations during my trip: 
- Weather in Vietnam is quite hot, be prepared and bring a hat or umbrella and Wet Ones to cool you down
- Vietnamese are generally friendly, always smile and they will smile right back at you
- Vietnamese food is great! And VERY cheap!
- There are a lot of motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh, according to our tourist guide it's like for 1M people there is an equivalent of 5M motorbikes!
- The area we stayed in is quite clean and fairly cheap (Vien Dong Hotel). 
- We always take a cab to go around the city, it's also very cheap.
- There's no pollution despite of a lot of motorbikes.
- There are also policemen at almost every corner of the area, they will help you cross the streets as there are a lot (as in a LOT) of motorbikes - you will be amazed how many they are!
- Vietnam currency is Vietnamese Dong or VND.  Lowest currency is 1,000VND, highest (I think) is 500,000VND.  Be careful with the zeroes, it can be confusing when you compare 10,000 vs. 100,000 bills.  $1 is equivalent to about 20,000VND.  So if you have $100, you will have 2millionVND!  We were practically millionaires in Vietnam!
- Vietnam is quite educational.  Visit the tourist spots: Reunification Palace, Opera House, War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple.  We were not able to do the Mekong Delta Tour and the Ha Long Bay tour - we didn't have enough time.  I suggest, before you go to Cu Chi Tunnels, visit the War Remnants Museum first so that you will better understand why they had to do the Cu Chi Tunnels.  
- There are a lot of travel agencies along Pham Ngu Lao (Backpacker's district), the tour we took is only priced at 6$! It's a whole day visit to Cao Dai temple (larget temple in Saigon) and the Cu Chi Tunnels.  We left for the tour at 8am and came back at 7pm.  
- When visiting the War Remnants Museum, do it in the morning.  This museum is not for the faint hearted - you will see and feel the difficulty during the Vietnam War, I felt depressed after.  If depressed, shopping and eating will make you feel better. :)
- Infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh has a lot of European influence, especially along Dong Khoi St.
- Shopping is quite cheap, you just have to know how to haggle for lower prices, start at 50% off!- We went to look for shopping areas where they sell overuns: Zara, Forever21, Dorothy Perkins, Nike, Adidas, Michael Kors etc. We also went to the Post Office and Ben Thanh Market where they sell Vietnamese goodies (Lacquer stuff, coffee beans, hats and handmade bags). I will have a separate post on shopping soon!

Vietnam is a nice place to visit, don't expect that it would be like Singapore or Hongkong where you will see a lot of big malls and sophisticated business people. Vietnam is a steady place where you can just relax, sit and enjoy Vietnamese coffee (to die for!).  Educational travel is what I think of Vietnam - include this country in one of your travel plans.

I will be showing pictures on my series of posts on The Heat Is On In Saigon!

good morning saigon!

saigon sky

notre dame cathedral

grandeur facade of notre dame 

post office

european lamp

coffee available on a motorbike

highlands coffee, popular coffee chain in saigon


  1. Sounds like an amazing trip!
    Gorgeous photos!


  2. such pretty pictures, I love Vietnam food :D I wanted to go to Vietnam when I was in Asia, but then didn't have enough time :( next time!!

  3. Vietnam sounds great! Great photos!


  4. Vietnam looks like an amazing country.. My brother in law is Vietnamese and I love the culture and food.. I actually might go visit the country next year.

    All the best, Angel

  5. WOW,these pictures are simply amazing!!!Thanks for sharing,love them all!
    Happy weekend!

  6. thank you sweeties for all your lovely comments! I truly appreciate them!


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